Monday, January 6, 2014


As a former Foreign Service Officer, I found this excerpt from Story of the World, vol. 4 thought-provoking:
"Remember those polite messages that one country sends to another by way of an ambassador? Diplomacy looks courteous and well mannered, but usually one country agrees to the polite messages of another country only because both countries know that a war will start if it doesn't."

While I think war might be overstating the negative consequences of non-cooperation in most cases--other measures such as lessening of foreign aid, visa difficulties, trade obstacles, embargoes, and generally un-accommodating behavior are more likely in today's world--Susan Wise Bauer exhibits an acceptance of the German version of Realpolitik, the idea that political actions must be realistic and accept the reality of power as a governing force in politics as opposed to unrealistic political actions based on ideology. In the wake of this past year's foreign policy debacles--of the top 10 international winners of 2013, none are are the USA or Americans--the State Department might need to re-evaluate whether its foreign policy moves are based on political reality or merely hopes that other countries will share our goals. It is interesting to note that Germany did make it on the list of 10 winners in 2013.

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